With the first crop of UNLV School of Medicine students starting in July, Las Vegas will add to its already robust medical community. With it will come an influx of doctors, students and other medical professionals—and Downtown Las Vegas might be the perfect place to house them.
According to Shani Coleman, redevelopment manager for the City of Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Medical District incorporates a core area of 214 acres. Business and government officials recently expanded the district to 680 acres to incorporate additional health care services. The centerpiece planned will be the estimated 230,000 to 280,000-square-foot UNLV School of Medicine, which will include an educational building and library.
University Medical Center, located within the City Council-approved Las Vegas Medical District Master Plan, is partnering with Clark County and the UNLV School of Medicine to build other facilities offering specialized education. Another addition to the plan is the UNLV Medicine Ackerman Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Solutions, a partnership between UNLV School of Medicine and the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation, which opened in 2016 in the district. Southern Nevada is also becoming a medical destination for domestic and international visitors.
The boundaries of Martin Luther King, Charleston and Alta boulevards and Rancho Road are considered the core. The expanded medical district would be as far west as Valley View Boulevard, north to U.S. 95 and Rancho and to the east, Main Street including Symphony Park and the World Market Center.
To accommodate this boom are prospective developments such as a 165-unit mixed-use project to be located on Charleston Boulevard near Shadow Lane. Along with retail, the residences would feature one-, two- and three-bedrooms spaces with amenities such as a gym and pool. According to Coleman, the developer wants to attend the International Convention of Shopping Centers before submitting plans and beginning construction in the fall.
Developers and the City of Las Vegas are working together to target the two demographics of the incoming students to provide housing.
“In speaking with Dr. [Barbara] Atkinson (dean of UNLV School of Medicine) and the staff at the medical school, the students are usually older and may have families, which is why one developer is planning larger living spaces,” Coleman says. Other developers are looking to cater to the younger students who like to walk, bike, dine and shop where they live, Coleman adds.
One creative use of space is the research and planning by one developer to build residences on top of a parking structure. “We are exploring other cities with limited land use that have approved office and residential spaces on top of parking structures. The developer we are in conversation with has worked with UNLV and is interested in exploring this possibility,” Coleman states.
Residences in the medical district offer a unique opportunity. With Project Neon, many of the older multi-family residences were torn down, creating a new chapter for residential neighborhoods in the medical district.
“Many of the developers we are working with want to create a higher-end product to capture the interest of people and encourage them to live Downtown. Part of what we are doing in the city in reference to the master plan of the medical district is to create an environment where people can live where they work. We just don’t want big medical buildings, but the creation of neighborhoods,” Coleman says. This includes walkable sidewalks, landscaping and open space so people who are working at Valley Hospital, UMC and UNLV can feel comfortable living in the same area, ready to call Downtown home.